How To Buy A Safe Vehicle

Here are a couple things to look for to make sure your vehicle is as safe as it can possibly be.

Vehicle Steering and Handling Safety Features:

  • Safety research shows that when accidents happen it is usually because drivers are unable to safely control their vehicles from a steering or braking point of view. In an attempt to reduce the risk of accidents, there is one important safety feature which will no doubt reduce the potential for an accident and it is called Electronic Stability Control (ESC).

Electronic Stability Control:

  • ESC is a safety feature that detects, prevents or recovers from skids. ESC uses sensors in the car like wheel speed sensors, steering wheel position sensors, yaw sensors and others to determine which direction the driver wants the car to go, and then compares it to the way the car is really going. If the ESC system senses that your car is about to skid or that it has already started to skid, the system can apply the brakes on the individual wheels to bring the car back under control. This ESC system can recover from a skid that a human driver can’t because the ESC system can apply the on brake individual wheels, and the driver can only apply the brake on all four wheels at once. ESC can help keep the driver from losing control of their car if they panic one swerve or even when they are driving on slippery roads.

A government study shows that the ESC system has reduced single-vehicle accidents by 34% for cars and 59% for SUVs. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has estimated that ESC safety feature has reduced the risk of fatal single-vehicle accidents by 56% and fatal multiple-vehicle accidents by 32%. The U.S. Government has made ESC a mandatory safety feature to be put on all cars by the 2012 model year. Some different names of the ESC system are Electronic Stability Program (ESP), StabiliTrak, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), and AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control.

Vehicle Crash Safety Protection:
When you start researching for your new car you should use websites that are run by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Both of these groups give lots of different comparisons on how the “test dummies” scored on the frontal and side impact tests, and both of these groups have published test scores regarding the “roof strength to weight ratio” of many different vehicles from the past year and a half.

Safety features that you should look for regardless of their test scores are:

Seat Belts

  • Avoid buying a vehicle that only has a lap belt. Lap and shoulder belts are considerably better for all who ride in the car
  • Vehicles that have the seat belt built into the seat and/or ones that include pretensioner belt retractors are favorable

Laminated glass

  • You should buy a vehicle that has laminated door glass rather than the fragile safety glass

Side and Rollover Airbags

  • Improved safety can be available if you choose to purchase curtain, they are usually called side airbags and rollover airbags; these two airbag types are not the same

Adjustable Headrests

  • These are to reduce the risk of a neck injury when you’re in a rear-end accident. You should always buy vehicles with adjustable headrests, this is so that they can be raised or lowered so that the top of the persons head is at least in line with the top of the head rest

Crash Testing Comparisons:

When frontal and side impact crash tests are done the crash dummies are outfitted with different instruments and the measurements are recorded to measure the forces that the impact causes to the dummy’s head, neck, chest, and femur. Essentially the lower the numbers are the “safer” that vehicle’s systems function. For this reason it is reasonable to compare these scores to get an understanding of how the different vehicle’s structural strength, seat belts, and air bags operate in different types of accidents. The government has created some head injury criteria (HIC) for protection when you are in a frontal crash; these criteria say that any score above 1000 is unacceptable when there is a crash speed of 30 mph into a wall. In the newer vehicles, ones with belts and air bags, the HIC scores are usually shown to be below 700. In an accident the chest impact scores are measured in g’s for frontal crashes, any score that is above 60g’s is unacceptable. In a side impact crash the risk of chest injury is measured using criteria of 85 TTI (d). In frontal crash tests and side impact tests the reasonably safe vehicles have chest scores of less than 40g’s and 65 TTI (d).

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly rank test scores by giving the vehicle a “star rating.” The more stars there are the safer the car is; 5-star safety ratings measure the crash worthiness and rollover safety of the vehicle. Five stars is the highest rating, one is the lowest.

Rollover accidents account for about 25% of all fatal and catastrophic injuries. It is important that you research the strength of the car’s roof structure. In this test the higher the strength to weight ratio, the stronger the roof is and the less likely the chance the roof will collapse in a rollover accident.

Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC